Protein engineering enzymes for industry: production and assessment of bile acid products
Supervisory Team: Dr. Kimberly Watson (Biological Sciences), Dr. Dimitris Charalampapolous (Food Biosciences), Professor Helen Osborn (Pharmacy) and Dr. Alex Weymouth-Wilson (Dextra Laboratories).
Project Overview: Bile acids (BAs) facilitate digestion, absorb lipids and regulate cholesterol. Recently, it has been shown that BAs, like hormones, regulate various metabolic pathways, such as glucose and energy homeostasis. There is an urgent need to develop more effective, longer-term sustainable routes for the synthesis of BA products. The primary aim of this project is to identify and to alter the properties of specific enzymes toward optimal production of BA products, using modern bioinformatics and protein engineering techniques. Further interest in BAs are as natural ligands that play an important role in lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and in the modulation of a group of metabolic hormones that stimulate a decrease in blood glucose levels. The role of BA in these processes is becoming apparent but important mechanistic details remain unclear. The secondary aim of this project is toward elucidation of the precise mechanism of action of BA ligands in glucose homeostasis, as an essential first step toward structure-based drug design. With an ever increasing obese and diabetic population, this research will contribute to our knowledge of BA physiology and their use as therapeutic agents in the treatment of diabetes and, other metabolic and liver disorders.
We are seeking an excellent PhD candidate to join our multi-disciplinary team. The candidate will be based in the School of Biological Sciences and will work closely with the wider team members, gaining a breath of generic and scientific skills. Over the course of the project, the candidate will develop expertise in a range of methodologies including molecular biology, protein engineering, protein expression, fermentation, purification, chromatography and structural/computational biology. The wider collaborative network, offers the candidate the opportunity to access facilities at Diamond Light Source, the Research Complex at Harwell and Dextra Laboratories to achieve their project objectives. The applicants should ideally have experience in molecular biology, protein expression and/or protein structure.
How to apply: To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Biological Sciences to the University – see http://www.reading.ac.uk/graduateschool/prospectivestudents/gs-how-to-apply.aspx . When prompted as part of your online application, you should provide details of the funding you are applying for, quoting the reference GS16-017.
Funding Details: The studentship will cover Home/EU Fees and pay a tax-free stipend of £14,296 per year for a period of 3 years. The studentship will begin in October 2016.
Eligibility: Applications for this studentship are encouraged from highly motivated candidates with an interest in multi-disciplinary approaches. Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a (UK equivalent) 2:i Bachelors Honours Degree in a relevant discipline. Due to restrictions on the funding, this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU.